Supernatural thriller draws on Shoreham's historical buildings

An insurance claims controller turned writer, who has lived in Shoreham for decades, has drawn on the town's ancient history to inspire his second novel.

Keith Freeman, of Newtimber Gardens, published his 470-page historical thriller, described as a mixture between a murder mystery, love story and supernatural saga, earlier this year after five years of writing.

‘An Element of time’ tells the story of a race to find the Magi gold by Queen Victoria and several secret societies.

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Researching the story took the author and his wife ‘traipsing around Roman sites’ but much of the action is based in Shoreham, as the Yorkshire-born writer said: “Having lived in the area for so long, I was able to use the architecture and the places I know.”

The story begins in 1869 with a Lancing College student who, falling ill, sends a note by pidgeon to the town to call for a doctor.

Mr Freeman learnt about this common practice, which ‘caught his imagination’, at a lecture on the college’s past.

In the story, the sick note is received by Dr Richard Warhurst, a fictional GP who lives at St Mary’s cottage.

The current owner of the home is a friend of Mr Freeman’s, who showed him the ancient tunnels - now blocked - connecting the cottage to the church.

The carvings showing the Knights of Templar on the pillars at St Mary’s Church, which Mr Freeman used to attend, also inspired him.

Mr Freeman, who keeps a blog about aspects of ‘science, astronomy and scripture’, said residents would be able to ‘visualise’ the places mentioned and hoped that the novel, which has been compared to Dan Brown’s books, might inspire readers to visit the town.

Having ‘always wanted to write’, Mr Freeman took an early retirement from his job in the insurance industry, a ‘very interesting’ role, to work on his novels, which are available online via and

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